Take A Breath – The Song

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Harry Chapin2

A child arrived just the other day…”


Many years ago I heard the music and writing magic of Harry Chapin… musician, songwriter, storyteller superb.

Harry transformed me.

The beauty in his storytelling had an incredible way of capturing the depth within a life’s soul with few words.

Perhaps no song of his is more gut-wrenching… more heartbreaking… than Cats In The Cradle, a song of father and son.

It’s a song of longing-to-be-loved in the moment, but both the dad and the son in their own time are unable to give the other what he needs.

In the end, the father sees and laments where those seeds of unintentional neglect that he sowed so early on have left him in his later years.

There seems to be many songs of fathers and their overlooked sons.

But what about mothers and their children?

Perhaps a bit unusual, I have seen some examples out there of strained mother-child relationships and pondered…

So, this week in my lyric writing, I’ve taken Harry’s wondrous inspiration and my own observations… but with a turn of the gender tables (yes, idea sex at work).

This song tells of a woman who truly wants to meet society’s expectation of what a mother could and can be, but sadly, is unable to unearth the ability to give, to step back from her own needs.

The song has no formal chorus like we come across in most current songwriting. Instead, I’ve set in a small 2-line bridge between each verse to show a transition of forward movement in time.

(NB: An inside scoop? Writing song lyrics requires deft rhythmic ability. I know from experience that when I write lyrics, the rhythm and pacing in my writing won’t run smoothly when I begin setting a melody to the words. So if you notice an unsettling unevenness to the lines, don’t be surprised. I’m not. This jarring arrhythmia gets worked out as I settle down to my guitar or piano and “fine-tune” in much the same way I edit a blog post, over and over.)

dandelion blow.jpg

Take A Breath

by Larry Green

Take a breath
it’s over soon
Take a breath
it’s over soon

They told her she’d be maternal
perhaps she’d live the dream
and when the searing scorch she felt
below as the infant came
was the burning birth of
shackled days in chains.

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Sleepless nights made hollow eyes
thank god she had her man
supermarket smiles a constant drag
with every aisle she slogged
expectation’s lure too great
smeared cheerless laughs across her face

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Her man he made the meals
most times he cleaned the house
normality like a pancake flipped
absorbed by her mother’s doubts?
but her kids still feel the sunshine so
she poured another glass of wine

Take a breath
it’s over soon

The job she chose meant pretty clothes
a steady stream of evenings out
the kids in bed when she came home
the bedroom lights turned dim
she swore she’d dance them to the moon
one day in her world of might-have-been

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Each year’s gift passed in turn
pencil lines marked the growth
kids blown afar with deeper scars
lamented choices too early sown
guilt’s voices sing their songs
the voices sing their songs

Take a breath
It’s over now.

The Christmas Twins

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xmas twins

It’s the most …..?….. time of the year.

I’ll leave you to fill in the blank because each of us has our own different word that lies in our head and our heart.

I’ve been struck… haunted actually… for a long time, by the juxtaposition of Christianity’s drive towards joy at a time when I see and encounter so many that are bereft and lonely, depressed and distant from the concept of “joy”.

I’m talking Christmas here.

It’s a snowflake dream and a teary conundrum.


It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
(Best LGBTQ verse ever!)

Who doesn’t love the idyllic dream of warmth, good food, and comfort in a time of family, friends, and sharing. Filled with iconic trees and sleighbells and characters, pious and secular.

But internally for me, there just isn’t enough money or time that I can give to others to square or compensate for the abutment of seasonal bliss vs sorrow.

The visions and sounds of Christmas fluff up intense exhilaration in some, while at the same time casting others into hell.

All of these opposing thoughts bring me to the music lyrics I’ve written this week.

The lines below are a troubled expression of the mixed emotions I feel and experience each year as December rolls around. Maybe I’m just emoting and puking out this internal dialogue of guilt in knowing that I have so much daylight in my world even as days grow short.

Christmas Echoes

Christmas Echoes

by Larry Green

Two echoes in the mirror
twins tied by ribbon and twine
Two troupes can’t quite see the other
one story yet never aligned
fa-la-las and white christmas
Gemini visions blur the same line.

Like Wolf and the Hawk
when night melts in decline
seek a god of hope and elation
or a god of life flat-lined
my season’s ecstasy meets foul
my smile spins to grime

The crescendo of hymns
the peal of the bells
cinnamon and clove scents
waged battles ‘tween heaven and hell
blazing fire in the hearth with
cozy stories of stables foretell

On the streets in the alleys
Grendel and Cain’s curse in hot flames
but this day isn’t their story
why should angels be ashamed?
my questions prickled thorns
my answers dark stained


I smile for the joyous
I cry for the pained
dissonance of a single note
free hope where it’s enchained
Cuz my eyes have looked round
both sides of this mirror
ofttimes the same day

hope twins.jpg

Photographs Of A Sponsored Life…

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A year back a pretty young Instagram “influencer” from London, England, posted the photo above.

Nice, right? Picture Perfect Idealism …

A happy little breakfast scenario that ordinarily (I gather) results in comments like “WOW!” and “You’re so beautiful…“.

Standard Facebook/Instagram/Twitter stuff…

Not so this time.

She was slammed with more than 100,000 angry replies and “dislikes” and prompted a wave of criticism, with the more printable comments ranging from “Fakelife!” and “Bunny-boiler” to “Let’s pop her balloons” and “Who keeps Listerine on their bedside table? Serial killers, that’s who.”

The internet sharks smelled blood and encircled her with abusive rants and taunts. So much for the pleasant and innocent online communities of Instagram.

“Each time I refresh my page, hundreds of new nasty messages pour on to my Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, some of which have contained malicious death threats,” she wrote in a follow-up post. “There are now hundreds of thousands of tweets circling the internet, shaming me.”

There’s a hunger and need for likes and positive comments to allay our fragileness. I admit to swelling when I get “like”ed… affirmation and acceptance and approval are a part of my fuel too.

It is the darkness that quietly lies within/beneath our world of social media that inspired my writing of this week’s music lyrics.

As alluded to in these lyrics mentioning Janis Ian (who wrote a troubled teenage girl’s anthem, At Seventeen, in the 1970’s)… the burning desire for acceptance and love is a huge part of the human “story”.

How Liked I Am Today

The reply said fuck you lady
She shook and took a bite of Big Mac
some sauce dripped on her jeans
wiped it quickly with the napkin
then turned to see if anyone had seen

Sleepless held her hostage once again
no model hair was out of place
even 3:30 near the morning’s dawn
her jacket had the perfect cut
honey face perfection by Revlon

Sweet hearts surround the placid scene
jarred vampires in the web
teacup smile and hairline cracks
forged feeds of reality on a stage
faux bronzer on her back

A baby slurp of bottled water
head down she scanned her Instagram
past ads by KFC and acne cure
this barrenness of checking
flawless photos of her old friend’s wedding

Her Mother’s generation
embraced its FOMO too
the girls in high school bathrooms
where Janis Ian held their torment
wrinkles cursed like webs in wounds

Scales can lie, hold magic high
smiles that sometimes fool you
strawberries often hold no juice
while clots and plaque grow thicker
are photos forever true?

The table finally wiped clean spotless
sun stirs and rubs its eyes
as tears inside are swept away
another day of trademarked life
Look how liked I am today

social media.jpg

What If You Landed On A Strange Planet?

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UFO’s have been in the news quite a bit lately.

I’m intrigued by the notion of UFO’s and how we humans visualize what an alien landing on our “shores” might look like or act.

Rarely do we see an imagined extraterrestrial closely resembling an earth human… more often we see greenish-toned creatures with scales and large ferocious teeth.

UFO’s are scary and threatening to us in most cases.

Yet, if we were to travel to another planet that had living beings, would we really enter their air space with murder and mayhem in our hearts? Wouldn’t peace and harmony be our message?

And so we come to this week’s blog… this week’s song.

To make this more real and “down-to-earth”, I’m posting this set of song lyrics about “aliens” in my own world, equating their arrival in Canada to the scenario of a UFO arriving on the surface of our earth.

In previous posts I’ve talked about how I work and play with a Syrian refugee family in my area who have lived in this foreign land of Canada for almost 4 years.

The old world they left behind, and the new one they entered when they disembarked from a jet onto the tarmac at Pearson Airport in Toronto are light-years apart for these lovely people.

The young parents’ lives have been flipped and shaken as if they were rag dolls.

Syrian family

Musically, I hear a quiet bass droning in the background as the melody of guitar and recorder plays out a march, like a ticking clock moving forward in time.

This song could be sub-titled:

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for a Syrian.


The schoolyard dust a daily friend
farm that held no borders
The air was calm and warm
your brothers’ calls familiar
then a new day broke hell
with clouds that lit a storm

You packed a bag and wandered far
along quiet lines with many others
left your home where soldiers warred
where bombs and bullets threatened
bully tyrant who ripped your life
your tears he never cared for



You are a UFO that landed
in this universe apart
in hibernation from your nation
soul burned across a border
and a home that’s just a house


Years slid by in sun-baked camp
Your eyes so shy, smile drained and dry
yet morning breaks another day awoke
phone call beckoned with a chance
one week later you climbed the steps
to a westward craft of hope

The others greeted you with smiles and promise
strange words that made no sense
trembling smiles over months and years
dreamy memories crushed under winter’s ice
through long night’s darkness cloak
your kids never saw your tears

You feel the stares the daily threat
the stories from the news
when you wander streets with kids in tow
lunch-bags and schoolbooks under arms
others spy your covered head and shake
about dangers that somehow you impose


How long will this prison hold you?
when will the air smell sweet again?
and carefree gossip with your neighbour
turns your hair to grey

The pace is slow the march relentless
new words bloom up like flowers
low prayers take hold in clash of courage
coiled spring relinquish power
now worries that afflict the native ones
are the stakes that frame this brand new cage



You are a UFO that landed
in this universe apart
in hibernation from your nation
soul burned across a border
and a house that looks like… home

happy syrian family

When Atlas Shrugged

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Atlas Shrugging

Pack of wolves…

For millennia, boys and men have felt nature’s sense of entitlement… entitlement based on a physical strength that accorded power and control to the strongest.

Darwinian capacity fulfilled.

Women were born to a position of weaker subservience, and often fear, when physical strength meant more than common sense or morality or intellectual capacity.

This is the world I was born into and have hesitantly participated in to some degree… less than some, and more than others, I’m sure.

I carry within me a gnawing sense of guilt and shame for my gender’s role in the historical storyline, almost like any slave-owner or pillager of history should.

And so, with these thoughts rolling around the back recesses this week, I’ve penned a lyrical song/story of male privilege in this #MeToo world that was a long time coming.

Overdue charges are calling out for recompense, and it sometimes – often – is a confusing place for us men who are learning and adapting to a new world order where equality in all its forms is on the rise.

I envision approaching this musically in a Jim Croce ballad-style (think New York’s Not My Home, or Lover’s Cross) with lots of soft finger picking and a crescendo towards the end of the chorus.

confusion um


We’d play out in the schoolyard
I’d pull your hair and trip you
we kids all knew that that was fun
and even when those days were done
we’d still do this after we’d grown up
and somehow’s still alright
Cuz you’d just grin and bear it
shed tears alone at night

Fancy jobs they came along and
all I’d have to say was
I need this for my kids and wife
god weren’t those good times of life
I’d smile that knowing grin
you’d stand back and watch me rise
that was OK back then right?
when we were golden guys

I’m only a confusion
A child was born
but man was made
This bed of rock
has turned to dust
Athena shared her misty shadow
When mighty Atlas Shrugged.

My libido took a mountain climb
Titanic in my pants
a few bucks and a winking eye
young corner girl that he can buy
Your kids cry out for milk and bread
slip on a slinky dress, tuck away your pride
turn and wipe away the sticky mess
was it worth the twenty-five?

Voice’s changing
Marching of the guard
Voice’s changing

I’m only a confusion
A child was born
but man was made
This bed of rock
has turned to dust
Athena shared her misty shadow
When mighty Atlas Shrugged

woman carrying man

If The Shoe Fits…

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IMG_1897 (1).jpg


Shoes tell a story.

Old and young … Big and small.

Just think of the renowned 6-word story – flash fiction – attributed to Hemingway…

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Incredible how 6 words can elicit a tear.

This week’s lyrical song inspiration originates in the new running shoes of my 15 month-old grandson.  The little guy has begun to proudly “walk” in the last week or two and sports the coolest orange sneakers.

I’m struck by the juxtaposition of his pumpkin-orange shoes sitting next to my blue New Balance runners.

These pairs of brightly-hued shoes are truly the bookends of life.

Forget 6 words, these shoes speak a thousand, no, a million words.

It reminds me of the bronzed set of baby shoes from my mother’s infancy I have sitting on our living room shelf. A hundred years ago she fiddled and toddled around in these, and today I can hold them in the palm of my hand.

Then I think over my life and of the shoes I’ve owned; the ones I’ve hesitated to discard even though they’re worn down to nothingness.

My Ironman Nikes that I sweat in for many miles and hours in 1990… my ebony wingtip wedding shoes that reflected like dark pools of silky water but were always too tight … the brown velcro’ed sandals I bought in the black market in Beijing.

shoe collection

Shoes are drama and fun.

Shoes are loose and tight… sometimes dreamy and sexy.

Shoes are a warehouse of memory and story.

So, today I give you my song dedicated to our friends… the pedi protectors, the projectors of our personality, our loved and occasionally hated companions through the years… shoes.

Hum this to a musical whimsy in your head…


Wake up every morning
you slip them on your feet
they hug your toes all safe and warm
they get you to the street
and even if they smell real bad
at least you’re looking chic

Ev’rybody’s got ’em
right below their pant hem
ya wear them in the am
and oftimes in the pm
by folks who hike earth’s emerald glens
and those who hop like Moonmen

On those frigid Arctic wintry nights
we cheeky guys would snipe
Hey, where’d you get those bland new shoes?
from beer we’re high as kites
We’d sing and dance and schmooze
“is that the cat who chewed your new shoes”

Some are like Imelda
with a thousand pairs or two
a friend who calls them CFM’s
won’t explain that one to you
Cuz sex and sexy don’t heed the word
for them with heels like birds


Manolo what the hell is that?
My style not red as Loubs
I slide them on and still feel jacked
with all this orange and blue
serene’s my colour sure as life
I’m the lucky prince who
holds the hand of my wee man
as we stroll in our new shoes

toddler shoes


The Predator



“The hot blazing sun shone like a flaming ball of fire over the cobalt ocean horizon…”

Yuk… I detest cliches…

Write what you know … that too is a cliche, but one that makes a lot of sense.

I write a great deal from what I know (could it be that I’m too lazy to research what I don’t know?)… and now, as I *gulp* advance in years, from memories stored in my data-bank of experience.

Some of the most formative adventures in my life occurred in the late 1970’s.

I accepted my first hospital lab position and moved to the Northwest Territories in Canada’s Arctic. I had scarcely turned 20, whiskers barely making their presence known on my chin.

There was so much to learn about so many things, jobs, new geographies and climates, and yes, romance and relationships were right near the top of my “need to know more” lineup.

In my late teens in Hamilton, I had dated a bit here and there and lived and cried through one “serious” relationship.


All of my life experience to that point was reflected in the western cultural norm of boy chase girl, boy ask girl on date, etc… the formula, the standard pattern of  young women playing coy and hard-to-get was ingrained in me by everything I saw around me in real life and in TV and movies.

And then I moved to Yellowknife (YK).

YK Winter 4

The rules I knew, my life’s accumulation of dictates, were tossed out the window of the PWA Boeing 737 that carried me from Hamilton to Edmonton and then finally YK.

It was thrilling and it was tumultuous and yes, it was even a bit scary.

All of a sudden, my role as a masculine “gentle predator” was turned on its head and I was as much prey as predator.

Who knew that the fairer sex could have a strong inner urge and bold approach to relations and boudoir activities? One young lady even gifted me a copy of the HITE REPORT. Clitoral …. what????

I won’t go into intimate details here, but all of this backstory leads me to today’s lyric writing.

This song lyric, THE PREDATOR is my little story of being pursued – pretty aggressively – by an attractive young nurse who, for whatever reason, set her sights on me as her sexual prey.

Sure, it was a bit thrilling and stimulating, but in this new world I’d entered, like Alice Through The Looking Glass, it sent a tiny shiver of uneasiness into my core.

So, here goes:

THE PREDATOR – Larry Green


Icy YK nighttime
anticipation staggers the line
where mukluks crunch the snow
trembling northern lights that show
the trail of yes opposing no


Delicious fever salsa dance
where my reason stands little chance
bestial hormones thrash and fight
my body tingles flight and fright
her instincts master o’er this chill night


Seductress graces, sweetly talk
her witchcraft lays a winsome plot
sips of wine poured by Eros
the flame is set, the kindled spark
I’m prey that knows it’s marked


The ghost in my rear view mirror
is a smile and a tear
The cards once dealt were turned
the chase came clear
temptation’s game is rigged
Eden’s curse freshly learned

eden curse

I Should Have Been A Beatle

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Lennon and McCartney songwriting




I had a message from a good friend this week with a link to a John Lennon song. It was a simple song lyrically and musically called Jealous Guy.

I was dreamin’ of the past
And my heart was beating fast
I began to lose control
I began to lose control
I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy
I was feeling insecure
You might not love me anymore
I was shivering inside
I was shivering inside
Oh, I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

Can lyrics be any simpler?

Lennon was a Beatle a few millennia ago.

You remember the Beatles, right? If you saw the movie YESTERDAY recently, maybe I could understand that you might not know the Beatles, but I’m going to assume that you’re with me here.

The Beatles wrote some of the most complex and circuitous songs but they also excelled at simple.

Simple with a huge underlying well of emotion that struck into the hearts of millions.

Though I know I’ll never lose affection • For people and things that went before • I know I’ll often stop and think about them • In my life I love you more”

in my life lyric

When I write song lyrics I have an inner urge to evade simple and pack the lines with meaning and wordy description.

But this week, I’m consciously trying… Yoda trying… to back away from my internal push to be verbose… sparse and simple is my intent and approach.

But now, as I look over my lyric verses below, I have to say, well, it’s (I’m) a work in progress. Only my chorus seems to really attain the short and simple.

The genesis of this song relates to my difficulty through life of expressing my emotions publicly. Vulnerability suppressed.

My mother died when I was 15 and it was a surprise to my family (and strangely, even me) that I shed no tears or expressed my grief in the days and years following her death.

I’m not the Iceman now, however, I still haven’t totally thawed, but then … who wants me blubbering everywhere anyway?

So here goes:


Went to the Ex when I was a kid
summer and my energy had no end
I played every day with a pile of friends
and some are gone now beside
a million shards of memory spilled to the ground
somewhere in the darkness blind
so hard to show my tears
so hard to show my fears

You settle down and the kids all come
clocks tick on, lofty dreams unfolded
it’s what we do, it’s what’s expected
til unknown fevers called late at night
I sat singing cats in the cradle while
Salt and pepper became my colour
I think it’s OK to show my tears
it must be OK to show my fears

I’ve lost much of my hair now
Found it on the edges of my ears
That’s what happens over the years
see there are stories my father never told me
and days when Leonard Cohen took his place
when wrinkles became my face and
somehow it became ok to show my tears
I know it’s OK to show my fears


Voices grow softer
Whispers grow louder
I’m listening cuz I want to hear
It’s OK to show my tears
That took a lot of years

tears on guitar.jpg

The Birthday Door



There are artists of various kinds – painters, composers, writers – who find themselves at an impasse, a temporary roadblock where their muse is unable to coax the finishing touch… yet.

In writing the lyrics for a song this week, I’m struggling, not frustrated, because I know the answer is there, but also not rising to the surface. What this means is I’m presenting to you an incomplete composition… the unfinished lyric.

I’m not pleased nor disappointed … forward progress isn’t always a straight line, is it? Thank you, I can see you nodding your head!

I’ll revisit my words again soon and I know that with time and concentration, the inspiration will take me to the finish line. That muse rarely disappoints … she holds a mysterious but wondrous power.

Now, should you have a lyrical idea or brilliant snippet to share with me, I would be pleased to try it on for size… thanks!

Onto the song…

I passed another annual cake and ice cream event recently.

The thought occurred to me that a birthday was akin to opening a door and moving on to a new part of life’s journey… the passageway to reinvention and renewal. A Yellow Brick Road moment.

Each verse in this lyric reflects a stage along this discovery pathway.

The latter aspect of the “trip” is where I’ve stumbled, unable to make the flow and ideas work in a way in which I’m happy.

Just another verse or two is what I need to make this a completed work… completed aside from finding a musical avenue to bring it to real life… no easy task in its own way. What’s that? How does one eat an elephant? Right …

(And for those who are interested, my rhyme scheme is AAABB)

Thanks for reading… here goes…


At first there was no door
One day he looked up from the floor
Absent words yet to explore
just mommy’s smile and a breast to suck
“blow out the candle, no don’t touch”

The next few doors so long ago
balloons and kids and baseballs to throw
hair coming in though not down below
I learned that the he was me
few lessons came easy or free

Teenage doors flung wide with fears
I stumbled on passions I cried hidden tears
loves gained then lost then reappeared
Soothing stars in a guitar late at night
more doors still to open then I do felt right

Little hands turn door handles up high
Daddy let me open the box for you can I?
I’ll play with that, little voice never shy
Twilight zone halls lived in a haze
Weeks months yes years that were days

…. ??? Verse or two about later life… ???

In front of this door
How many will I pass through
along the way
give me cake give me candles
give me toothaches give me sandals
how many doors do you think I can handle
before I can’t find the key

Call Me Johnny Fishhook

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fishhook addiction

First encounters … first impressions …

A year or so back at the soup kitchen here in Penticton, I met a new volunteer one morning … we’ll call him Johnny …

Johnny was perhaps 45 years old, good-looking and a soft- but well-spoken fellow.

Normal … whatever that is.

We engaged in light and pleasant conversation throughout the morning of chopping and dicing vegetables and plating out desserts.

It surprised me a bit when he related that he came to the soup kitchen a couple of days each week to have lunch himself.

This didn’t line up with my first impression of him. I tried not to ask too many probing questions.

After the lunch rush of serving the crowds of hungry folks, Johnny asked me if I could drive him by his place on my journey home.


As we drove along, we continued to chat amiably. I liked him.

I dropped him off at a local beach-strip motel (off-season rental).

Johnny explained that he stayed at the motel during the quiet season but when the tourists arrived, he would be asked to vacate which meant that he must either find a cheap summer rental somewhere or camp out in the local parks.

I pulled away with a lot of questions… a lot of wonder on my mind.

The following week I read a Letter to the Editor in the Penticton Herald newspaper… I immediately recognized Johnny’s name attached to the bottom of a very eloquent and impressively-reasoned letter about a federal political issue. Wow!

During my next shift at the soup kitchen I asked a friend what she knew about Johnny.

In a hushed voice, she described him as a lovely man who had graduated and worked as a lawyer for some years.

But, at some point, his addictions and episodes of depression got the better of him … he made mistakes … too many, too big mistakes… eventually he was disbarred.

Angel crash.

Anyway, Johnny is a stark reminder to me that many many people of great warmth and intelligence fight demons and don’t always come out on the winning end of their struggles.

Which all brings me to this week and a new song lyric I’ve written…

Guitar music

… the lyric is a reflection of a fellow perhaps a little like Johnny… someone who gets through his days, barely … often with difficulty and pain.


Call me Johnny Fishhook
though most just call me J
Yeah, I was you upon a time
so I get your stares and looks
you’re the mirror I used to hold
before I caught the hook

Verse 1
I loved my life
you know I made the grade
got the college degree
the first time I got laid
funny, called to the bar
was kinda different in those days

Verse 2
The child I keep inside
didn’t always look this ripe
Tonight I stalk the alleys
in dark and in the light
where I find my friends and worries
varied tones of my own stripe

Verse 3
Mornings then I hack awake
sometimes stiff and cold
to catch the demons attacking
grabbing at my soul
life’s miracle never came to my paradise
so today I sleep with mice

Verse 4
I haven’t lived here all my life
years back I even had a wife
I wonder if cancer might be easy
could those demons be less creepy
that they hold a gentler knife
my tears hold less sacrifice

Call me Johnny Fishhook
though most just call me J
Yeah, I was you upon a time
so I get your stares and looks
you’re the mirror I used to hold
before I caught the hook

addiction hook

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